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29 June 2023

VIVEROS HERNANDORENA, pioneers in biological control in fruit tree nurseries.

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Viveros Hernandorena began 10 years ago to develop biological pest control as the main strategy within its Integrated Pest and Disease Control. Today, under the direction of Eva Lacuesta, its technical department is credited with the success of a control system that until then had not been installed in fruit tree nurseries.

One of the pillars of Viveros Hernandorena 's Varietal Reliability seal is Integrated Pest and Disease Control, and within this, its main strategy against pests is the use of auxiliary fauna. A pioneering biological control, in which they have been working for more than 10 years with resounding success, creating precedents by having established their own protocols of action and biological control techniques, based on encouraging the installation of native natural enemies, respecting the biodiversity of the area as far as possible.

Although biological control is well established in horticultural crops and seedbeds, it is not so well established in fruit trees or fruit nurseries, with little bibliography or trials. "When we started 10 years ago, there was no reference to how auxiliary fauna could behave in fruit tree nurseries. For this reason, we have had to analyse each natural enemy, its installation and control of the pest in question, establishing our own protocols, as natural enemies do not behave in the same way in all species or in all agroecosystems", explains Eva Lacuesta, head of the Technical Department of Viveros Hernandorena.

This department is now made up of two more technicians, who carry out highly specialised work that requires continuous training, as the presence of pests and their impact on crops is constantly changing. "For biological control to be effective, it is not enough just to release auxiliary fauna. It is necessary to carry out important research and prevention work to ensure the installation of the natural enemy, so that when the plant reaches the client's production area, it does so with the predator or parasitoid installed and without the pest", reinforces Eva Lacuesta.

Control of the red spider mite, the starting point

The starting point for biological control in Viveros Hernandorena was the red spider mite, a very aggressive pest in fruit trees. Faced with the need to control it and the lack of bibliography, the technical department began to carry out trials with auxiliary fauna, and together with the Polytechnic University of Valencia, they began to install and study beneficial organisms for the control of this pest.  Since then, Viveros Hernandorena has made many advances in biological control. "We started with the release of phytoseedlings to control red spider mites, and today we are able to control other pests in the nursery and do so with different control organisms", argues Eva Lacuesta.

A clear example of this specialisation achieved by Viveros Hernandorena are the parasitoids identified and installed in its crops by means of the banker plants, mostly hymenopterans of the braconid family: specific species such as Aphidius spp. (in fruit trees) or Lysiphlebus testaceipes (in carob trees).

"We can say that by means of these banker plants, we achieve a balance in the auxiliary fauna within the nursery, which contribute to their installation, shelter and presence throughout the year, thus achieving improvements in the result of biological control", explains the head of the Technical Depa.

Más allá del control de plagas

La apuesta de Viveros Hernandorena por el control biológico de plagas trasciende del interés sanitario del cultivo. Bajo ese sistema de gestión busca una metodología más sostenible medioambientalmente, pero también más respetuosa con el entorno laboral y con la salud de las personas que conforman el equipo de Viveros Hernandorena.

Beyond pest control

Viveros Hernandorena's commitment to biological pest control goes beyond the sanitary interest of the crop. Under this management system, it seeks a more environmentally sustainable methodology, but also one that is more respectful of the working environment and the health of the people who make up the Viveros Hernandorena team.

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